Vermont poised to enact legal pot through Legislature

State Sen. Dick Sears D-Bennington speaks on the marijuana legalization bill Wednesday Jan. 10 2018 moments before it passed the Senate on a voice vote at the Statehouse in Montpelier Vt. The bill which would allow the recreational use of marijuan

511 retains civil and criminal penalties for people who exceed the limits on possession and cultivation or who provide marijuana to anyone younger than 21. "Vermont will likely be the first state to take such an action this year, it is unlikely to be the last with New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut and others likely to give legalization legislation serious consideration during the 2018 legislative session".

To date, eight states - California, Colorado, Nevada to name a few - have legalized marijuana, but have done so through voter-approved ballot measures. Scott indicated that he intends to sign H.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed H.511, which allows individuals 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to two plants to maturity.

For now, anyway. The bill also calls for a task force appointed by the governor to study the issue and recommend "legislation on implementing and operating a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult marijuana market" by December 31. "Vermonters should be proud that their state is becoming the first to do this legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative".

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Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support legal marijuana for adults, according to a March 2017 Public Policy Polling survey.

Neighboring Massachusetts, nearby ME and six other states have legalized cannabis use as a result of voter initiatives. That would make Vermont the ninth state plus D.C.to legalize marijuana. Just last week, the Justice Department announced it would no longer de-prioritize marijuana cases in states where the drug is legal.

This could also be an important milestone for the East Coast, as legislatures in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and DE are seriously eyeing legalization bills as well.

"Now that yet another state has rejected marijuana prohibition, there is even more pressure for Congress to take action to prevent any federal interference from Attorney General Jeff Sessions", said Matthew Schweich, interim executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "It's time for the federal government to respect the authority of states to determine their own marijuana policies", he added.

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